The Pro Football Hall of Fame’s 46-member selection committee was asked by the NFL to choose an all-star Super Bowl lineup featuring the greatest of the greats from the first 49 Super Bowls.
The names that didn’t make the list would be enough to tell you just how difficult it was to choose the 27 men who make up the “Super Bowl 50 Golden Team” that was just announced by the league.
As one of the selectors, I helped choose eleven offensive players, led by quarterback Joe Montana; 12 defenders, led by four Steelers from the 1970s; three specialists and one head coach, Chuck Noll, one of a league-high eight Steelers represented.
“The Super Bowl 50 Golden Team is an amazing list of incredible individuals,” said Pro Football Hall of Fame Executive Vice President Joe Horrigan. “Each name conjures up memories of some of the sport’s greatest games showcased on its biggest platform, the Super Bowl stage. Unforgettable individual performances like Lynn Swann’s acrobatic catches in Super Bowl X or Joe Montana’s come-from-behind game winning drive in Super Bowl XXIII are forever etched in the collective memories of football fans and celebrated as some of the most inspiring moments in the history of the National Football League.”
No Vikings made the Super Bowl Golden Team, which includes 22 Hall of Famers: guard Larry Allen, cornerback Mel Blount, defensive tackle Joe Greene, tackle Forrest Gregg, punter Ray Guy, defensive end Charles Haley, outside linebacker Jack Ham, running back Franco Harris, inside linebacker Jack Lambert, safety Ronny Lott, Montana, Noll, receiver Jerry Rice, cornerback Deion Sanders, tackle Art Shell, running back Emmitt Smith, receiver Lynn Swann, outside linebacker Lawrence Taylor, guard Gene Upshaw, center Mike Webster, defensive tackle Randy White and defensive end Reggie White.
Three Associated Press MVPs – Montana, Smith and Taylor – are on the list. Kicker Adam Vinatieri was the only unanimous selection and the only active player on the team.
Four members of the list – Haley, Sanders, Rice and Vinatieri – played in Super Bowls with two different teams.
I had a few differences, including Bill Belichick instead of Noll; Anthony Munoz instead of Gregg at offensive tackle; Russ Grimm instead of Upshaw at guard; Mike Singletary instead of Lambert at inside linebacker; Chiefs punter Jerrel Wilson instead of Guy; and Vikings Hall of Famer Alan Page at defensive tackle instead of Randy White.
The Vikings obviously played poorly as a group in their four Super Bowls, but a Hall of Famer of Page’s status, who played in four Super Bowls in eight years, was too hard to leave out.
Of course, someone in Buffalo might read this and say, “Hey, wait a minute …” Or someone in New England could speak up and wonder why the only Patriots representative is a kicker they share with the Colts.
Or someone in Washington could point out that there are no Redskins, including Joe Gibbs, the only coach to win three Super Bowls with three different starting quarterbacks.
And … well, you get the point. Picking this team was fun, but it wasn’t easy.
Here is the full team:
SUPER BOWL 50 GOLDEN TEAM
QB: Joe Montana, 49ers
RBs: Franco Harris, Steelers; Emmitt Smith, Cowboys
TE: Jay Novacek, Cowboys
WRs: Jerry Rice, 49ers/Raiders; Lynn Swann, Steelers
OT: Art Shell, Raiders; Forrest Gregg, Packers
Gs: Gene Upshaw, Raiders; Larry Allen, Cowboys
C: Mike Webster, Steelers
DE: Reggie White, Packers; Charles Haley, 49ers/Cowboys
DT: Joe Greene, Steelers, Randy White, Cowboys
OLB: Lawrence Taylor, Giants; Jack Ham, Steelers
ILB: Jack Lambert, Steelers; Ray Lewis, Ravens
CB: Deion Sanders, 49ers/Cowboys; Mel Blount, Steelers
S: Jake Scott, Dolphins; Ronnie Lott, 49ers
K: Adam Vinatieri, Patriots/Colts
P: Ray Guy, Raiders
KR/PR: Desmond Howard, Packers
Coach: Chuck Noll, Steelers